Best Graphic Novels 2014

underdog literature october 2014

Here are 20 monthly comic book series that caught my interest lately.

Off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention…

all published and / or collected in trade paperback collections in 2014.



01: RICK REMENDER (writer): „Deadly Class“

ongoing high school thriller / mystery series, Image Comics

Deadly Class, Vol. 1: Reagan Youth

02: MARK MILLAR (writer): „Jupiter’s Legacy“

10-issue ongoing mini-series about the children of super-heroes, Image Comics

Jupiter's Legacy Volume 1

03: CLAUDIO SANCHEZ (writer): „Translucid“

philosophical and experimental super-hero tale, Evil Ink Comics


04: KEL SYMONS (writer), „The Mercenary Sea“

adventure and espionage, set in 1938, Image Comics

The Mercenary Sea Volume 1

05: KELLY SUE DeCONNICK, „Pretty Deadly“

ongoing horror / fantasy western, Image Comics

Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike

06: LARIME TAYLOR (writer), „A Voice in the Dark“

ongoing horror / serial killer drama, Image Comics

A Voice in the Dark, Volume 1

07: ALES KOT (writer), „Zero“

ongoing spy thriller, Image Comics

Zero, Vol. 1 An Emergency

08: KYLE HIGGINS (writer), „C.O.W.L.“

ongoing period drama about Chicago’s super-hero labor union, Image Comics

C.O.W.L. Volume 1: Principles of Power

09: JOSHUA WILLIAMSON (writer), „Nailbiter“

ongoing horror / serial killer small town drama, Image Comics

Nailbiter Volume 1: There Will Be Blood

10: J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI (writer), „Ten Grant“

ongoing supernatural demon-hunter urban fantasy drama, Image Comics

Ten Grand Volume 1

11: JIM ZUB (writer), „Disney Kingdoms: Figment“

limited all ages fantasy mini-series about theme park Disney characters, Marvel Comics

Disney Kingdoms: Figment #1

12: ED BRUBAKER (writer), „The Fade Out“

ongoing noir crime drama set in Hollywood in 1948, Image Comics

The Fade Out #1

13: CHRIS MISKIEWICZ, „Thomas Alsop“

ongoing superatural urban fantasy drama – might be whimsical and melancholic. BOOM! Studios

Thomas Alsop #1

14: SIMON SPURRIER (writer), „Six Gun Gorilla“

ongoing sci-fi western action comedy (?), BOOM! Studios

Six-Gun Gorilla

15: CHARLES SOULE (writer), „Letter 44“

ongoing science fiction thriller about astronauts making first contact, Oni Press

Letter 44 Volume 1: Escape Velocity

16: RICK REMENDER, „Black Science“

ongoing crazy sci-fi adventure, Image Comics

Black Science, Vol.1: How to Fall Forever

17: MARK MILLAR (writer), „Starlight“

ongoing (?) golden-age style space opera, Image Comics

Starlight #1

18: GREG RUCKA (writer), „Veil“

Urban Fantasy / horror ongoing, Dark Horse Comics


19: KIERON GILLEN (writer), „The Wicked + The Divine“

ongoing supernatural drama about deities, reborn as hipsters, Image Comics

The Wicked + the Divine Volume 1

20: JOE KEATINGE, „Shutter“

ongoing Young Adult science fiction adventure, Image Comics

Shutter, Vol. 1: Wanderlost


I’m shocked that so many Image Comics titles made the cut: Image has launched a lot of new series, and reviews / reception has been great for most.

I’m also curious about Brian Michael Bendis‘ mob drama „The United States of Murder“ and Jason Aaron’s „Southern Bastards“.


5 ongoing older (but still recent) series that I want to read soon:

Revival, Vol. 1: You're Among Friends Bedlam, Vol. 1 The Black Beetle in No Way Out Nowhere Men, Vol. 1: Fates Worse Than Death Storm Dogs Vol. 1 TP

…and all recent ongoing series that I read and enjoy:

Velvet, Vol. 1: Before the Living End Lazarus, Vol. 1: Family High Crimes The Massive, Vol. 1: Black Pacific Saga #1

Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale MIND MGMT, Vol. 1: The Manager Alex + Ada, Volume 1 Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal The Private Eye, Volume One

She-Hulk, Vol. 1: Law and Disorder Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 1 Smallville Season 11, Volume 1: Guardian Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood

I’m also curious about Geoff John’s „Superman“, Cameron Stewart’s „Batgirl“ and Becky Cloonan’s „Gotham Academy“.


related Posts:


DC Super-hero Comics: Where to start? [Guide / Index]

This is the index for my 24-part-series „Super-Heroes: Best Place to start“ [part 1: here].


You’re interested in Super-Hero Comics [Link] or the DC Universe [Link]?

You want to start reading some of the new 52 comic books [Link] set in the world of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman?

All heroes – and heroines – have monthly series with different strengths, tones and sensibilities.

…and each of these comic book sagas have good entry points for new readers.

For 24 heroes, here are my selections and recommendations. Enjoy!


related Links:


my German comic book journalism:

The best place to start reading… the Flash!

This is part 3 of my 24-part-series „Super-Heroes: Best Place to start“ [Link to the complete list… here!].


You’re interested in The Flash [Link] / Barry Allen [Link] or Wally West [Link]?

To me, the best place to start is…

not yet released. If you want to start reading right away, a charming first look will be:

„DC: The New Frontier“ by Darwyn Cooke (Writing and Art), a limited series / trade paperback collection [Link to review] published in 2004.


If you can wait until November 2012, though, I’d recommend the following collection by Francis Manapul (Writing and Art) and Brian Buccellato:

THE FLASH VOL. 1 HC Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato Artist: Francis Manapul Collects: THE FLASH #1-7 $22.99 US, 168 pg.

more info: here [Link]


What’s the appeal of… Barry Allen and Wally West?

Created at the start of the quirky, optimistic and crazy 1950ies/60ies „Silver Age“ of Comics [Link], „The Flash“ tells inventive, but slightly nerdy and repetitive tales of street-level, everyday men: Barry Allen and his – temporary – replacement Wally West are doting, sweet and sometimes naive midwestern boys, perpetually almost ready to settle down.

A wide-eyed, but small-scale / suburban / rose-colored examination of life’s demands on your typical normal, late-twenties, All-American „regular“ guy.


two other books, good for beginners:


good books for advanced readers:


sub-par or disappointing books:


common problems / grievances in „The Flash“ books:

  • a plethora of (fairly likeable but flat) mentors, kids and sidekick speedster heroes… who have nothing to do.
  • never-ending „the tiger cannot change it’s stripes“-storylines about gimmick-themed thugs and gangsters like Captain Cold, Mirror Master or Trickster.
  • a fairly suburban / apolitical / rose-colored perspective on city life, long-term relationships and civic duty. Even more kitties waiting to be rescued than in Superman’s Metropolis. 🙂


Is the current monthly „The Flash“ book, launched in September 2011, any good?

Hell, yes! Francis Manapul’s „The Flash“ is so lush, charming, engaging and reader-friendly… it feels more a like Disney / Pixar production than a DC super-hero book. Excellent, visually mature storytelling for an all-ages audience!

Interested in other comic book heroes?

I’d recommend bright and big-hearted series like „Supergirl“, „JSA“ and the current „Aquaman“.

Here’s my full list [Link]!


related Links:


my German comic book journalism:

Green Lantern, The Flash and Geoff Johns: Where to start?

In the 1960ies, ‚Green Lantern‘ (a ‚Space Police Cop‘) and ‚The Flash‘ (‚The Fastest Man Alive‘) were two of the most popular DC heroes. Since 2005, both heroes – and their comics – made a BIG comeback, thanks to writer Geoff Johns.

White, old fanboys LOVE these nostalgic stories about white, old heroes…

‎…while feminists and liberal readers want more minorities, more social issues, more complexity. (I’m one of these guys.)

Geoff Johns IS a good writer, but I’m not very interested in ‚his‘ heroes and their stories, and after I’ve read about 8 ‚Flash‘– and 5 ‚Green Lantern‘-comics written by Johns, I still have a hard time enjoying them: They’re mainstream in a very dull, bland, All-American way.

Still: there is ONE entertaining, atmospheric and newbie-friendly ‚Flash‘ comic by Johns that I read in March and that worked really well (4 out of 5 stars, and with terrific art by Toronto artist Francis Manapul), „Flash: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues“ from 2011. [„„]

…and there’s ONE very good and comprehensive introduction to ‚Green Lantern‘ by Johns that I’ve read last night (4 out of 5 stars, but with pretty bad art / character design by Ivan Reis) from 2007: „Green Lantern: Secret Origin“. [„„]

Both are recommended, and both FINALLY helped me to see the charms / allure of ‚Flash‘ and ‚Green Lantern‘. I’m still not a big convert or fan… but if you want to TRY these heroes, these are the best starting points I’ve found so far.

P.S.: A more artistic, out-of-continuity book that stars 1950ies versions of Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman and MANY other DC heroes is „The New Frontier“ by Darwyn Cooke. It won’t help you catch up with these characters‘ modern-day interpretations… but it’s a good showcase of their essences and their early appeal.

Here’s a great, reader-friendly review. Enjoy!